Contrasting Flavors - Sweet and Savory - Lamb Tagine with Prunes
Combining the flavors of sweet and savory is a Moroccan specialty. Consider the jewel of Moroccan cooking, the b’stilla, a delicious combination of flakey layers of pastry filled with a perfect blend of sweet and savory spices, nuts, and meat.
The contrasting flavor profiles of Moroccan food do not stop there, however. One of our favorites is a tagine that combines slow roasted lamb or beef with sweet prunes, and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and pepper.
Chef Moumen will be the first to tell you that the best part of Moroccan cooking is that you do not need anything too fancy to cook. You do not even need a tagine!
A heavy dutch oven or slow cooker.
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 oz. of butter
- 2 lbs. of lamb - preferable lamb shanks or a beef chuck roast (Chef Moumen uses Strauss free raised lamb shanks at Kous Kous)
- 1 onion diced
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 1/4 bunch of cilantro
- Zest of 1/2 a lemon or a 1/4 of preserved lemon sliced (see Chef Moumen’s Recipe for Preserved Lemons Here)
- 1.5 cups of pitted prunes
- Toasted sesame seeds (around 1 Tbsp) or toasted almonds
- 2 Tbsp honey
- Add the oil and butter to your saucepan or dutch oven over high heat. Brown the meat on all sides then transfer off heat.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion to soften.
- Combine 1.5 Cups of water with ginger, cinnamon sticks, and cilantro sprigs and season with salt and pepper to taste. Note: Reduce to around 1/2 a cup of water if using a slow cooker.
- Stir this mixture well and return the lamb or beef to the pan. Transfer all of this to your slow cooker if that is your cooking vessel.
- If using a dutch oven or other heavy saucepan - reduce heat and cover. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour, then add the lemon zest or sliced preserved lemons and cook for another 30 minutes. Finally, add the prunes and honey and simmer for another 30 minutes. NOTE: if using a slow cooker you will move the mixture to your vessel and cook covered on low heat for 3-5 hours. Then you will add the preserved lemons, prunes, and honey and cook an additional 3 hours on low. At this time the lamb should be fork tender.
- Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds or almonds as your garnish and serve your tagine hot with warm Moroccan bread or a French baguette. (Chef Moumen serves his lamb tajine with ginger mashed potatoes for something not quite traditional, but very delicious!)
Enjoy your tagine in good health and we look forward to seeing you soon at Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro!
Photography: Tom Donald as seen in Feast Magazine October 2014, Issue 36